Interview with Rev. Orloff Miller
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

UM, TALK TO ME ABOUT HOW YOU FELT WHEN THE LINE TURNED AROUND AND WENT BACK TO BROWN'S CHAPEL, AND GIVE ME YOUR FEELINGS THAT DAY OF, ESPECIALLY CONCERNING WHAT HAPPENED.

Rev. Orloff Miller:

March 9th was a very frustrating time in Selma, uh, first of all we waited and we waited at Brown's Chapel for the, uh, word to come that we could, we could finally march. We could go out the doors and we get on Sylvan Street and we could head to the bridge. And when the uh, the word finally came, uh, we were ready, we were eager, uh, and we marched. I had not seen downtown except very quickly through a car window as we came into town, and uh, so it was all very new to me. And I remember looking up at that bridge which just seemed huge, now I'm sure living near the Golden Gate Bridge it would seem very tiny to me, but at the time, it looked like a huge bridge. And it had this, this bend that goes up over uh, the river and uh, you couldn't see the other side over the bridge, but we marched up, wondering, what's on the other side, what are we going to confront. And as soon as we got to the top, then we saw what we were going to confront, you could see the line of state troupers with their blue helmets lined up. And so we knew there was going to be a confrontation. Uh, what we didn't know was how far we could get. We remembered the television shots of the horses, and the beatings, and we didn't know whether the same sort of thing lay in wait for us or not. Within the front lines of the march, Senator Paul Douglass' wife was there, uh, and of course, leaders of various, uh, religious groups with Martin Luther King at the head. And I had just gotten off the bridge, I was, I don't know, a third to a half way back in the march, perhaps and uh, the order came back in the lines, stop and kneel down on the highway. And apparently a prayer service was beginning. So we knelt and we prayed. And then we stood back up and all of a sudden I realized that the people in front were turning around and coming back and I was aghast, what is going on? Are we not going to go through with this confrontation? What's happening?** It was very frustrating to simply be one of the troops, so to speak and not know what was going on, but we were well disciplined to follow what was suggested by the leadership and so we turned around too and marched back over that bridge with a terrible sinking feeling. I felt just awful, it wasn't what I had come for.